Everything you need to know about skin pigmentation

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Here’s the low-down on pigmentation: what causes it, how it can be prevented and the skincare products to help treat it… 

Instagram beauty shots will have you think that ad campaign skin is just a standard, but the reality is that most of us have had challenges with our own. 

From acne to the effects of tiredness, the filter-free struggle can be very real. But if you’re noticing dark spots or uneven skin tone across your cheeks, nose or forehead, it could be pigmentation. 

And if that’s the case, you’re not alone. 

Many of the Stylist Beauty Council members cite skin pigmentation as a concern of theirs, which is why we teamed up with Caudalie to test their Vinoperfect Serum (the number one anti-pigmentation treatment in French pharmacies for 11 years), coupled with the latest Vinoperfect Brightening Essence.

Spoiler: 68% of members said their skin tone was more even after using it.

But before you delve into a solution, it’s important to know why pigmentation happens.

Skin gets its unique colour from melanin-producing cells known as melanocytes.

When those melanocytes become damaged or unhealthy, their production is affected, which means the cells end up producing too much melanin in certain places on your face and body. This causes patches of skin to darken, otherwise known as pigmentation.

The main type of pigmentation is pigment spots – also referred to as age spots, dark spots or sun spots.

There’s also melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The former is mostly found in pregnant women; the latter is most common in people who have acne.

Here’s everything else you need to know…

What causes pigmentation?

There are a few different things that can trigger pigmentation, but the number one cause is excessive sun exposure. 

Sunlight generates the production of melanin in skin. By protecting it from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, it acts as a natural sunscreen. 

That’s why skin tends to tan when you’re on holiday, but too much exposure can disrupt that process and cause pigmentation.

Hormones can also have a heavy influence on pigmentation, especially when it comes to melasma. 

There’s no exact cause known, but it’s most common among women as it’s thought to occur when female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone encourage the overproduction of melanin when skin is exposed to the sun. 

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens when there’s trauma or inflammation to the skin, which in turn causes the melanocytes to produce more pigment. 

How can you prevent pigmentation?

Since the biggest cause of pigmentation is exposure to sun, it makes sense that protecting your skin is the most reliable form of prevention. 

So, yes, that means regularly applying sufficient amounts of sunscreen. 

Experts generally agree that you should be putting on two milligrams of at least SPF30 per square centimetre of skin. In practice, that amounts to two tablespoons to each exposed area of your body, and about half a teaspoon on your face. 

It’s also important to reapply SPF at least every two hours – or more if you’ve been sweating or swimming. 

Bonus tip: applying Vinoperfect Radiance Serum underneath your suncream can help prevent sunspots (as well as correct them if you’re further down the line).

How to deal with pigmentation if you already have it

There are plenty of products and ingredients out there that can help even out and brighten skin, including Caudalie’s clever Vinoperfect essence and serum combination. 

We recently tested the power couple with the Stylist Beauty Council and 88% of our members said their skin looked more radiant.

“By week three, my complexion was brighter and more noticeable sun spots and dark patches could hardly be seen” said one member, while another added, “both products gave my skin a healthy glow and reduced dark spots and acne scarring.”

Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Serum is a hardworking formula, containing patented Viniferine extracted from grape vine sap, that helps to diminish signs of sun spots and blemishes caused by acne and scarring, while also boosting radiance and evening the skin tone for an effortless glow.

It works on all skin types and is oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores. Team it with Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence and it’s twice as effective as using it on its own.

The essence has been specifically formulated with skin-saving glycolic acid that helps slough away dead skin cells, white peony extract to even out your complexion and Caudalie’s signature ingredient – organic grape water – which is renowned for its soothing and moisturising properties.

Talk about a dream team.

To help handle skin pigmentation, add Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Serum and Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence to your beauty routine now